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OMAHA -- It was almost too late for Omaha Police Officer Paul Latschar.
"We had a five-minute window to save his life," said Dr. Robert Fitzgibbons Jr., one of the surgeons who operated on the wounded officer at Creighton University Medical Center.
Latschar, who had been shot after a Wednesday night traffic stop, had lost a huge amount of blood, and had no blood pressure and no pulse.
But he did have brain activity, Fitzgibbons said.
After four hours of surgery -- and 20 units of blood, twice a person's blood volume -- doctors are hopeful he will recover.
Latschar was in critical condition but was expected to make a full recovery, barring any infections or complications, Fitzgibbons said. The doctor said he was hopeful the officer could be taken off the ventilator today.
"We're anticipating that he'll come around," said Fitzgibbons.
Latschar, 35, and fellow gang unit Officer Jerry Swanson were leaving the scene of a shooting Wednesday night when they recognized a man in a car who shouldn't have been driving.
They knew the man had a suspended driver's license. They also knew he was a gang member.
What they couldn't know was how Corey T. Allen would respond after they pulled over his car at 42nd Street and Camden Avenue.
Allen, 30, is accused of opening fire on the officers, shooting Latschar three times -- once in his bulletproof vest, once in the abdomen and once in the left arm -- and nearly killing him.
Latschar was rushed to Creighton. He had four hours of surgery, and his condition stabilized this morning.
Latschar and Swanson responded to a shooting at 9:37 p.m. at 4389 Laurel Ave. Ladell Walton Jr., 27, was shot on his porch by one of five people in a dirty-gray, four-door car, police said. Walton's injuries were not life-threatening, they said.
The officers went on "hot spot" patrol -- what officers call the special attention they give to high-crime areas -- in their unmarked black Dodge Intrepid after finishing work on the shooting, Police Chief Eric Buske said at a morning press conference.
At 10:47 p.m., Latschar and Swanson recognized Allen driving a white Cadillac near 42nd Street and Grand Avenue. Knowing he had a suspended license and was a gang member, the officers activated their police car's emergency lights and pulled over his car. Both were wearing "clearly marked" Omaha police attire, Buske said.
Allen was the only person in the Cadillac.
As the officers approached Allen's car, Buske said, Allen got out and began firing at them. Both officers, who were wearing bulletproof vests, returned fire. Latschar was struck by Allen's bullets and called for his own rescue squad.
A citizen tended to Latschar while medics were on their way, Buske said. Meanwhile, Swanson chased Allen and called for other officers to help, Buske said.
Officers found Allen hiding next to a house's foundation near 42nd and Fort Streets after a chase. Police recovered a gun from the roof of a house at 4224 Fort St.
Within two minutes of Latschar's call for help, rescuers with Fire Engine 21 were at the scene. But already, Latschar was struggling for life.
Rescuers began working to control Latschar's bleeding and keep his airway open. By 10:56 p.m., Latschar was in the back of an ambulance and on the way to Creighton.
Doctors took over at 11:03.
A bullet that went into Latschar's abdomen damaged a major blood vessel in his leg, causing a life-threatening injury, Fitzgibbons said. The bullet also damaged the small intestine.
Mayor Mike Fahey and Buske asked that the citizens of Omaha pray for Latschar, an eight-year veteran.
Allen is a felon with a history of drug and gun crimes, according to police and court records.
Omaha police arrested Allen on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, use of a weapon to commit a felony and being a felon in possession of a weapon.
Fahey and Deputy Police Chief Mark Sundermeier came to the hospital to meet with the numerous police officers who also had gone there -- Buske was out of town. A couple of police cruisers barreled up the emergency room ramp about 12:30 a.m. Latschar's wife, Tara, also came to the hospital.
The shooting occurred 13 years to the day after Officer Jimmy Wilson Jr., a 24-year-old rookie officer, was shot to death in an ambush near 40th and Blondo Streets. Camden is about two miles north of Blondo.
Near the shooting scene Wednesday night, neighbors said they heard 15 to 20 gunshots ring out.
Andre Jones, 35, said he was visiting a friend near 42nd and Camden, about seven blocks north of Ames Avenue. They were on the porch when he heard gunfire, Jones said.
He said he saw two people running near the intersection.
Jones said it sounded like a gunfight.
"I just thought it was two fools shooting at each other," he said. "I ran and hid . . . I hid by the side of the house. I dived, man."
Jones said he saw a third person who appeared to be chasing after the other two.
Bill Simet, 32, who also lives in the area, said he suddenly saw police cruisers descending on the intersection -- "just sirens and lights and squealing tires."
"I feel it's awful if anyone gets shot, an officer or anyone," Jones said. "It's too bad there's got to be so much ignorance out here."
Residents said gun violence occurs too frequently in the neighborhood.
"I hope the cop is going to be OK," said Rashonda Stricklin, 32. "I'm sure he has a wife . . . I'm sure he never thought on a night on the job this would have happened to him."
Investigators remained throughout this morning. An area around Fontenelle Boulevard, 42nd Street, Camden Avenue and Fort Street remained blocked off.
Other shootings of officers
March 11, 2007: Capt. Mark Martinez was hit in the lower jaw while working off duty as a security guard at Sokol Auditorium. The shooter was not identified.
March 20, 2005: A traffic stop near Miller Park led to an exchange of gunfire that wounded Police Officer Zachary Petrick. Darrielle Gresham was convicted of attempted second-degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony and possession of a defaced firearm.
Sept. 11, 2003: Police Sgt. Jason Tye Pratt was fatally shot by parolee Albert Rucker, who then was killed by another officer.
March 1, 2000: Officer Jeffrey Holland was wounded during a robbery at the Great Western Bank branch at 4718 L St. Holland, working off duty as a security officer, was shot three times by Bradley Simmons.
Jan. 5, 1999: Officers Peter Nordlund and Mike Ratliff were wounded in a struggle with Charles W. Jones Jr. Jones was shot and killed at the scene on Sorensen Parkway just east of 42nd Street.
March 26, 1996: Officer Michael Diehm was wounded while entering a house to serve a high-risk arrest warrant on Donald M. Hurley. Hurley was killed by police in a shootout.
Aug. 20, 1995: Officer Jimmy Wilson Jr. was shot and killed while making a traffic stop near 40th and Blondo Streets. Wilson was the first Omaha officer killed in the line of duty in 21 years.
Dec. 2, 1977: Douglas County Deputy Charles Dobbertin was fatally wounded when he tried to stop a theft while off duty.
Nov. 26, 1977: Douglas County Deputy Dennis Lipari was shot and killed (SEE CORRECTION) while off duty when a gunman opened fire in a crowded Omaha restaurant.
June 5, 1974: Officer Paul Nields was shot and killed during a shootout with a man who had barricaded himself inside an Omaha house. The man was shot and killed by police.
-- Compiled by World-Herald researchers Michelle Gullett and Jeanne Hauser.
1. 9:37 p.m. Officers respond to a report of a man shot while sitting on a
porch at 4389 Laurel Ave. The victim is taken by a rescue squad to Creighton University Medical Center for treatment of injuries that are not considered lifethreatening.
2. 10:47 p.m. Two members of the gang unit who had investigated the earlier shooting make a traffic stop at 42nd Street and Camden Avenue. The sole occupant of the stopped car emerges and fires a weapon. Officers Paul
Latschar and Jerry Swanson return fire. Latschar is hit and Swanson gives chase on foot. Latscher is rushed to Creighton.
3. Minutes later The suspect, 30-year-old Corey T. Allen, is arrested outside a home at 4224 Fort St. The weapon that officers believe was used in the shooting is found nearby.